Hi Tri 4 Schools fans,
Since the start of January I really picked up my training.  During the Fall I was swimming and biking on my own, probably finding time to workout 2-3 times a week.  Currently I do some kind of training every day of the week.  One of those days is an easy day where I only do about 20 minutes of core work and physical therapy exercises for my low back pain (more about that later), but overall it is definitely a big step up from where I was!  Three of my workouts each week are with Madison Multisport and I can say with certainty that having a group to train with makes it a lot easier to stay motivated and the conversations makes the time go faster!  A couple times we have put on a certain genre of music (80’s for example) and make a competition out of it on who can name the artist and song title first.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, my biggest hurdle in the training process has been trying to reduce my low back pain.  About a year ago I started having low back pain during some long runs I was doing and eventually the pain continued even when I wasn’t running.  I’ve run in the winter before without any issues, so I’m not quite sure what caused it.  I took the rest of the spring off since I was busy coaching track & field at Verona Area High School, but unfortunately I didn’t get any better during that time.  When summer arrived I started doing physical therapy.  I was doing exercises and stretches with a physical therapist once a week and then doing them on my own the other six days.  At the end of the summer I asked my physical therapist if she thought the Ironman was an achievable goal because sign-up for Ironman Wisconsin 2014 was approaching.  I told her that ideally I would be pain free by January, because that’s when I expected to ramp up my training.  She was confident that I would be good by then, but unfortunately her prediction wasn’t right.  I was eventually released from physical therapy in the fall due to the improved strength and flexibility.  My pain had been reduced, but hadn’t gone away completely.  In December I had a cortisone injection into two discs in my back, but that didn’t have much impact.  Later that month I started doing chiropractic treatment and made some progress, but one bad movement and all the pain came back.  I was very frustrated.  Next I started combining acupuncture treatments to my chiropractic treatments.  I’ve never tried acupuncture in my life, but I can honestly say it really helped speed the progress.  About the same time I purchased an inversion table, so I hang upside down for about five minutes every morning after waking up and again before I go to bed at night.  When I talk about it with my friends about everything I’m doing they think I’m crazy, but then again they thought I was crazy for signing up for an Ironman in the first place!
So now that I’ve shared a little about the challenges I’ve faced, I’ll talk about what I am doing.  Currently, biking on my trainer doesn’t seem to bother my back, so most of my training is focused around that.  Currently I bike 5 days a week for at least an hour (110+ miles a week).  Like I said before, I do three of those training rides with my team, so time goes by really fast and the other two I do while watching television.  (Currently the Winter Olympics is providing some extra motivation!)  In December I was beginning to feel that kicking while I was swimming was bothering my back, but because of the improvements I’ve made in the last month, I just started adding swimming back into the mix just last week, but with a pull buoy, so I don’t have to kick.  I’m not swimming very much yet (I hang upside down more minutes in a week than I swim), but I try to introduce each piece in gradually so that I don’t have any other major setbacks.  I’m optimistic that if I keep making improvements in regard to my back that I will be able to begin running again (at least in small amounts) sometime in March.

My most fun update is that I’ve started to announce to classes that I’m training for next year’s Ironman!  The classes I’ve told so far seem pretty pumped up about it.  My hope is that by students seeing me take on the challenge of the Ironman that they will challenge themselves to participate in a Tri 4 Schools triathlon this summer.  I have some cool stuff planned for my elementary physical education classes, but that won’t start up until March, so I’ll write more about that next time.

Thanks again for following along.  I appreciate all of the support and encouragement!